Five years ago I sat cross-legged on the living room floor eating Indian food with my fingers. My little sister was visiting me in Vermont and Anders and I had made it our mission to teach her as many bad habits as possible while having as much fun as possible. So, we made an Indian feast, and taught Maya how to eat Indian style. We scooped and slurped and giggled. When we weren’t eating with our hands on the floor, we were sitting on the kitchen counter chomping on apples and peanut butter, scrambling up mountains, rough housing, or shopping for fedoras. I was excited to teach her to cook and to love nature and I was excited to learn from her how to be silly, brave and unabashedly uncommon.
Two years ago Maya spent a week with us in Seattle. We hiked and swam and licked dripping ice cream cones while debating the merits of veganism. Maya was fourteen and I was unsure how to connect with her but I was excited to teach her about love and relationships, about healthy living and to see the world in all its complexity and I was excited to learn from her about living in the present and unbounded compassion.Two weeks ago my step-mom called and told me that Maya had committed suicide. I was shocked, horrified and sick to my stomach as Anders and I went about making travel plans. We flew to NY that night and spent a week attending services, sitting shiva, talking, crying, trying to understand and feeling a range of emotions including guilt, anger and frustration. When people express their condolences in person or in cards, they often say “there are no words” and I understand that it is difficult to know what to say in a situation like this and that sometimes silence is the best gift one can give, but I also feel that processing this tragedy with words both spoken and written has been helpful for me. I realize that I don’t often share such personal insights and that some of you prefer a more lighthearted tone, but I felt that putting my feelings about this tragic loss into words was a good way for me to process the grief and pain and a way to help lift the stigma of suicide by talking about it openly. Life can be difficult and the state of the world can seem hopeless, but life is a gift and the world is full of beauty, wonder and hope.
Maya was vibrant, smart and full of compassion for the world around her and I mourn for the tremendous impact she could have had on this earth. There is no doubt in my mind that she would have done great things and made the world a better place. In my mind, the best thing I can do to honor her memory is to take the lifetime I have been given and to make a difference, to live with joy and with compassion for others and for myself.
Here’s an Indian inspired, vegan recipe in honor of Maya. It’s best eaten with your fingers.
*This recipe was developed as part of a virtual pumpkin party hosted by Sara of Cake over Steak. Each participant contributed a pumpkin themed recipe. You can find the full list of recipes here.
ROASTED PUMPKIN WITH TAMARIND AND CORIANDER CHUTNEY
1 sugar pie pumpkin, seeds removed, cut into 1-inch wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 dates, pitted
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
toasted sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Toss the pumpkin wedges with the olive oil and salt and spread on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the pumpkin is soft and beginning the brown.
Meanwhile make the tamarind sauce and coriander chutney. Combine the dates, tamarind and water in a small pot and simmer for 5-10 minutes. The dates should be soft. Blend with the cumin, cinnamon and salt and set aside. To make the chutney combine the cilantro, garlic, ginger and salt in a blender and pulse, adding water as necessary, until almost smooth.
Arrange the roasted pumpkin wedges on a plate and drizzle with the tamarind sauce, coriander chutney, sour cream and toasted sesame seeds.
24 thoughts on “Roasted Pumpkin with Tamarind and Coriander Chutney”
Wow, it’s true – there are no words. My heart goes out to you and your family. I’m glad that writing and talking about it has helped you with the healing process. I just can’t even imagine. Your sister sounds like a delight. I have family members and dear friends who struggle with depression and suicide. Sadly, it’s all too common. Thanks for sharing your story as part of the pumpkin party. Sending you lots of warm and happy vibes. xoxo
Thank you for the warm happy vibes. I need ’em!
My heart surrounds you with love and healing. It is unspeakably tragic to lose someone so lovely, “vibrant, smart and full of compassion for the world”. You are deeply wise Sasha. May we all honor her memory and make the most of this precious lifetime by improving this world and living a life filled with love, joy and compassion. Soul felt gratitude for letting us know in this thoughtful and heart wrenching post.
Sasha, what a beautiful post. I have been searching for words to send to you and thinking of you often. More people than you could ever realize are thankful to you for talking about suicide openly. This week, I will make some roasted pumpkin and think of you, your family and Maya – XOXO
Beautiful post, Sasha. So important to talk about your grief and express your feelings outwardly. I admire your openness. Sending you and your family love and peace at this impossibly difficult time.
In reading this precious memory, I smile. I cry. And I smile again. With each story, I feel pulled in both the directions of grief and gratitude. Deep appreciation for sharing this pearl. I love you, Elise
There really are no words. My grandma committed suicide (she lived with us) after a long battle with depression. It was painful and confusing. Going through that made me really see the stigma people attach to suicide. Nobody wants to talk about it when really it is all we should be talking about. We do need to process this stuff together so we can maybe learn how to reach out and find solutions or signs to help. I don’t know…I might be simplifying things. I just try to be good to people I come in contact with, as hard as it is. Just smile and say hello and genuinely care about their well-being. I hope you find some peace during this time. Maya sounds awesome. The fact that she was such a significant part of your life just proves it. I love that you made this Indian-inspired meal in her memory. If you ever want to go Indian food crazy with someone, let me know. I might know a thing or 2. Xo
Thank you so much. It means the world to know that there are others out there who have gone through a similar process. And I love what you say about being kind to those we come into contact with. You never know what someone might be feeling and compassion is often the best medicine.
You are never alone. Knowing it is a blessing and a curse. So many feelings!! I read this recently and it made a lot of sense to me. It was after I read your blog post too so I figure it was waiting to be shared. http://www.timjlawrence.com/blog/2015/10/19/everything-doesnt-happen-for-a-reason Hope you’re having an awesome day.
I am just discovering your blog now because we both had recipes in this wonderful virtual pumpkin party that Sara organized. I was so enthralled by your story and Maya that I literally gasped aloud when you shared that she had committed suicide. For myself, words both spoken and written are my only ways of processing such an incredible tragedy. In college I worked at a Suicide Crisis Hotline and the stigma around Suicide is very real and damaging to so many. I appreciate you sharing what you shared. This dish is a beautiful tribute to Maya that I will eat with my hands while thinking of all the memories you shared here and all of the many people who the world has missed out on.
Thank you! I’m so glad you found my blog. And thank you for your kind words. Imagining you eating this roasted pumpkin in honor of Maya makes me so happy, so thank you. The world is truly missing out on having Maya in it and that has been one of the hardest parts of all of this…
A lovely tribute to Maya and your relationship. Wishing you compassion with hope for the future.
Thank you so much!
What Grace said ^^ so many hugs for you right now… xooooox
Thank you. xo
I’m so sorry for your loss. What a thoughtful recipe to share her memory with, and I look forward to trying it.
I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you find peace and comfort in her memory. Beautiful post and may you experience good things to come!
So delicious! I love that chutney!
I am so sorry for the great loss you are experiencing. You are right – we should all live life with joy and compassion for each other. I am grateful you have chosen to share your experience as often times suicide is not discussed openly. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.
Thank you so much. I was hesitant about posting this, but the response has been wonderful and I can only hope that this will help more people discuss suicide and take it seriously. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. It means so much.
I’m not great with words, so usually I am the one that says ‘there are no words’ when something so sad like this happens. I just hope my hug says all the things I couldn’t say. Virtually hugging you right now.
Thank you. Hugs are the best…even virtual ones.
Hey Sasha, Beautiful words! Especially since words are hard to find right now, you did a beautiful job, The world is gonna miss that girl, more than we can know, Love, Paul